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Why is it called 'ham radio?' - The Sun Chronicle : Home

Why is it called 'ham radio?'

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Posted: Monday, September 30, 2013 12:00 am

Behind 'ham' radio ...

Why is it called ham radio?

Amateur radio is also known as ham radio and amateur radio operators as "hams." The term "ham operator" was originally used by landline telegraphers to refer to amateur operators, who they thought had poor skills.

According to the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) website, in the early days every station occupied the whole spectrum and government stations, commercial operators and amateur operators would compete for time and signal position.

Some of the amateur stations were very powerful and commercial operators, frustrated with the amateur radio interference, began referring to amateurs at "hams."

Ham was a derogatory slang word, as in "ham actor." Amateurs adopted the word and began using it to describe themselves and their hobby.

Several other stories about the supposed origins of the term developed over the years, but were found to be false. Sturdy Memorial Hospital Amateur Radio Club President Gary Powers prefers to think of 'ham' with the acronym "Helping All Mankind."

- Laura Calverley

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